New Kentucky Law Aims to Improve Domestic Violence Homicide Tracking

Kentucky will soon begin developing a coordinated, statewide system for reporting crimes related to intimate-partner violence. Gov. Andy Beshear’s signature on Senate Bill 271 mandates data collection on domestic violence.

Advocacy groups say they have struggled for years to verify state records of these types of cases, and have relied primarily on media reports and information from local shelters.

Andrea Robinson, executive director of Oasis Women’s Shelter in the Owensboro area, said homicides involving an intimate partner are likely underreported.

“By us collecting this data, it’s going to potentially help shape laws that will better protect victims,” Robinson stated.

The new law requires Kentucky State Police, Administrative Office of the Courts, State Medical Examiner’s Office and coroner’s office to gather and report annual domestic violence-related data to the state’s Criminal Justice Analysis Center.

According to the University of Kentucky’s Violent Death Reporting system, between 2005 and 2017, Kentucky saw 462 documented deaths related to intimate partner violence.

Meg Savage, chief legal officer for the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said like any other public health issue, communities, advocacy groups and social-service agencies need accurate reporting in order to develop best practices and prevention strategies.

“Even to start looking at, you know, domestic violence homicides and what might be the underlying causes and trends and red flags, etc.,” Savage outlined. “That could help us improve our systems.”

Robinson believes inaccurate data is masking the prevalence of household violence in the Commonwealth.

“I think it’s important for us to be able to recognize how many victims are murdered and losing their lives,” Robinson emphasized. “Because it brings awareness to how real and serious domestic violence is.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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